Week in Pop: Les Halles, Rachel Mason, Santiparro, So Many Wizards, Sumbu Dunia, Viktor Longo, Wes Tirey

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Featuring The Bright Smoke, Galanos, Grave Pool, Lanterna, Lenparrot, Snuff Redux, & more.

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Sjimon Gompers | February 13, 2015

The latest from Nima Kazerouni, and his band, So Many Wizards. (press photo courtesy of the band)

The latest from Nima Kazerouni, and his band, So Many Wizards. (press photo courtesy of the band)

Helping you celebrate your Valentine’s / President’s Day weekend right, Impose’s Week in Pop provides you with a host of exclusives to keep you entertained through the summer. But catching up with the latest buzz from the week, it was Grammy hype in excess everywhere you went; Drake released the album surprise If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late; then we heard Kanye West is allegedly working with Taylor Swift (along with Will Smith, McCArtney, etc); Miss Elliott is apparently working in the studio with Timbaland; Mac DeMarco’s Coachella promo; Azealia Banks to pose in the April edition of Playboy; David Lynch tribute concert happening April at LA’s Ace Hotel; we saw a new Straight Outta Compton trailer; members from Mastodon, Tool, and OFF! started the supergroup, The Legend of the Seagullmen; Jade Tree signed Hop Along, Algernon Cadwallader, & Snowing supergroup, Dogs On Acid; Ryan Graveface started Terror Vision Records; Carpark Records celebrating 16 years in the biz; The 13th Floor Elevators to reunite for Austin’s Levitation Festival; Giorgio Moroder is working with Skrillex on the soundtrack designed for a Tron video game; Diplo’s GIF-gate; and the Moz shared his thoughts on the “elite” and the Brit Awards.

Turning the pages and chapters forward, we are proud to bring you the following exclusives and interviews from Les Halles, Rachel Mason, Santiparro, Sumbu Dunia, So Many Wizards, Viktor Longo, Wes Tirey, The Bright Smoke, Galanos, Grave Pool, LanternaSnuff Redux, Lenparrot, Alge, Color Collage, Stage Hands, The Yetis, Isaac Rother & The Phantoms, & more — in no particular order.

So Many Wizards

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We have heard Nima and the Wizards bring the textures of dreams that have dominated the releases that mark their output via Jaxart, through Lolipop Records, and on their new 7″ split with Tennis System — Nima Kazerouni and crew return us to a larger extension of the sketches and sentiments expressed through the crytpic Crown Plaza releases (and non-releases). Nima’s solo output under that imprint depicted the interior, minimalist recording of claustrophobic feelings and progressions that mixed doubt, and introspection, and a very original kind of candid enthusiasm that is now brought to the maximalist mode and pep that So Many Wizards have established and continue expand upon.

Premiering the single “Everybody Goes Away” from their Converse/Amoeba Records 7″ split; So Many Wizards stir the cauldron with emotion and pep that ruminates on break-ups, aftershocks, aftermaths, and the effects of what happens when a formerly jointed relationship becomes broken. Drawing upon life’s transitional endeavors, the heavy weight of good-byes, and more; you can even hear how aspects of influences from Nima’s other groups like the aforementioned Crown Plaza, GNTLMN (with Social Studies’ Natalia Rogovin, now known as Others), and new band Nectarine run at times along parallel planes of direction. As a result, “Everybody Goes Away” finds So Many Wizards taking an economic approach to sharp production where every string is wrapped tightly around the pain wrought lyrics that packs a deep hitting emotional punch under two and a half minutes. Kazerouni combines verse dialogues ripped from late phone calls, text message aphorisms, mixing raw feeling that reels in the after-effects of abrupt departure and knee rejections reiterated on the chorus line; “I’m never going to be the same…these days everybody goes away.” So with so many bands and projects in the works, and SMW readying their new album Heavy Vision, a Part Time Punks Session tape for Lolipop Records, playing Noise Pop February 28 with Others (fka GNTLMN), and so on-we bring you the debut of “Everybody Goes Away”, followed by our latest conversation with Nima himself.

You the ‘Wizards have been taking a much more succinct approach with the new single. What is the story behind the trading of the more dream driven for the economic and super energetic garage anthem of the new single?

Well sometimes you just gotta write a garage anthem to project the pain outward instead of inward. Came at really rough time for me. I felt betrayed and so pissed. I think it’s still dreamy considering the rage that I felt then. The first time we played that song live I almost went into this dark place of no return and came close to smashing my guitar into the ground. I think there’s a live recording of it somewhere…

Traversing the southwest territories and beyond, how do you describe the travels and revelations made in the recent months and years?

In the recent months I actually traded the gypsy life for a steady new residence in Echo Park (L.A). The community here is perpetually amazing and I’ve finally been able nurture and foster friendships near and dear to me. Everything is temporary however. I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

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Crown Plaza still remains one of the best kept open secrets of extreme importance; what else can we expect from your premiere solo venture of prominence?

Well shucks. Thanks for believing in it. I love Crown Plaza. I’m going to give you guys the most ‘premiere’ track and music video in the coming weeks that we just finished. We also recorded a Converse Rubber Tracks session that we’re in the process of finishing as well.

How do you feel your Crown Plaza recordings, demos and such have impacted the latest songs recording or written for/with the So Many Wizards team?

Hmm… So Many Wizards is honing in on something really special but all my projects impact and complement each other in different ways. It’s hard to pin down how really. I recently started yet another project called Nectarine with some girlfriends of mine and this also adds to the outlandish nonsensical web of my song writing and life as musician. Some people think I’m crazy for doing what I’m doing. I tell them well…Nima Kazerouni Goes Electric… coming soon.

What’s next for GNTLMN?

Immediately in the future is Noise Pop Fest February 28 at Brick and Mortar in San Francisco. A lot of other exciting happenings too. An imminent name change / A debut album drop this year. Going to hold off on mentioning who will possibly release it…shhh it’s a secret.

Rachel Mason

Rachel Mason, photographed by Impose's own Owen Rogers.

Rachel Mason, photographed by Impose’s own Owen Rogers.

Multimedia artist Rachel Mason of Little Band of Sailors and countless other creative/collaborative projects has completed the film-song, The Lives of Hamilton Fish, a performance piece shown in conjunction with the movie, and available as an album March 6. Based upon a coincidental discovery of the reported deaths of an elected politician and derelict murderer who share the same name inspired the tale of a newspaper editor, turned sleuth who explores the metaphysical connections between the two individuals while imagining the mentalities between the two disparate figures. Premiering the video for, “Angels, Don’t Tempt Him To Die”, from the album (but not included in the film); Sarah Baskin portrays the character of Emily Mann trying to communicate with her statesman husband, Hamilton Fish, calling upon a host of angels to provide a conduit of connection through an ancient folk-tale-like spiritual.

Surrounded by Greco-Roman pillars, Emily summons angels to intervene that surround her, dancing to the sparse, slow trotting funeral march met by a chain gang’s processional pace. Acoustic chords strum steadily along as Mason and her angelic company continue choruses of howls, harmonies, various octaves, as super-natural beings that bridge the in-between areas of earth, the mystic heavens, to the dualities of separate lives that share a cosmic semblance in name. In between the strange coincidences of shared names, and shared frontpage obituary attempts to unravel the unfathomable, and encoded airs of unknown rationales behind the cycles of life and death. Following the video debut of “Angels, Don’t Tempt Him To Die”; we bring you our interview with Rachel Mason that describes a variety of the peculiarities that made up this project.

Tell us about the coincidence you discovered about the two lives of two men named Hamilton Fish that then set the stage for The Lives of Hamilton Fish, the opera, film, concert.

In 2006 I was a volunteer art teacher at Sing Sing prison when I accepted an invitation to be in an art exhibition at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, I decided to go to the local library to research some of those people executed in prison’s notorious electric chair. One particular prisoner, was a man named Hamilton Fish — better known for his pseudonym Albert Fish. I located a paper published on the date of his execution January 16 1936, the Evening Star of Peekskill and there was an announcement of his death in a column on the right side of the paper. While looking at the paper, I noticed another Hamilton Fish who apparently died just the day before and his article was on the left side. Could it really be that two men with the same name are pronounced dead on this one front page?

What first drew you to these stories, their similarities, their differences, and the weird coincidences?

Well, Hamilton “Albert” Fish was a fascinating and frightening character, who to date is one of the worst serial killers to have ever been documented. The fact that he was killer of children is what makes his crimes particularly brutal.

What is amazing however, is that the name Hamilton Fish in the part of New York where the I was researching is extremely well known for its political legacy. The name has been passed on for generations, to today, and the man who died a day before the killer was served 12 terms in the New York State Assembly and as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Theodore Roosevelt.

I feel like the story found me. I wasn’t expecting, or even wanting to be so excited by this coincidence, but one thing after another just kept drawing me back.

Tell us about the process of adapting this for a multimedia (multi-medium?) experience.

It started as a series of songs that I began writing without knowing what it would become. I eventually did a gallery exhibition at Marginal Utility in Philadelphia — a nonprofit gallery space who allowed me to do an experiment — and I was so excited by the show that it felt necessary to make it come to life outside of the gallery environment.

The first showing I did of it was in Hong Kong because it was accepted into the Pineapple Underground Film Festival. It was a revelation to me that this journey would start in Asia after being such a regional American story.

Tell us about the spiritual, supernatural, metaphysical, and surreal scene that comprises the pillar prayer and dance song and video, of “Angels, Don’t Tempt Him”.

This particular scene dramatizes Emily Mann trying to contact her husband, Hamilton Fish, by summoning angels. He is haunted by her sudden loss and has been thrown into a deep depression. She is trying to inspire him to not give up and to in fact locate a child that she herself has just encountered in the afterlife.

The metaphysical dimension of the story was inspired by Leonora Piper, an early psychic medium who was exhaustively studied by William James and his colleagues at the ASPR American Society for Psychical Research — an institution that still exists. When I learned that Emily Mann Fish, wife of Hamilton Fish II (the statesman) died tragically young, it seemed likely that had he wanted to pursue any contact with her, he might have actually consulted Leonora Piper.

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Why was this video omitted from the final film?

When I began performing the film as a live concert, the song didn’t work as well to sing along with, and I eventually came to realize it would work really well as its own music video and then I became excited about a different kind of existence for the whole project- where the film could be separated out — and the narrative fully fractured — I love the idea of someone finding this video completely out of context of the whole.

Further thoughts on parallel existences, parallel lives, and the fascination between these disparate and strange universes?

I truly believe that these kinds of stories remind us that our human existence is the product of cataclysmic cosmic events — and within all of us are particles of matter that have gone through supernovae.

Other creative projects you have in the works?

I have been thinking about supernovae and black holes because my next project is a new opera in which stars are personified at their moment of death and I mean stars in the cosmic sense.

I’m also planning a release of 12 albums and the covers are all being made by some of my favorite living artists. I’m super excited about both things!

The Lives of Hamilton Fish will be available March 6 via Bandcamp.

Noumenal Loom’s Winter Batch 2015

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Birmingham, Alabama indie imprint Noumenal Loom just released their Winter Batch #2 that features tapes from Les Halles (operator of Carpi Records), Sumbu Dunia (project of Rui Nogueiro from Lace Bows) and Wes Tirey. Presenting a premiere listen to the eclectic assemblage of new audio arts, we also present exclusive insights and interviews with the artists, but first an official introductory statement from Noumenal Loom’s label bosses, Garrett & Isabel:

We don’t release a whole lot of ambient, drone or meditative synth music on Noumenal Loom, although we both really appreciate these styles, so we wanted to start a yearly tradition of releasing a batch of beautiful and contemplative albums on each winter solstice (missed it this year due to manufacturing issues). The solstice batch is really satisfying because it’s a highly pointed curation — though we curate each of our releases on an individual basis, this is an opportunity to create a little aesthetic universe each year. We’re so happy to have worked with Aidan Koch for two consecutive years — she’s one of our favorite artists, and her work pairs beautifully with the solstice releases. We hope that we can continue to work with her in the coming years, and eventually reissue a box set of the winter solstice discography.

Sumbu Dunia

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Sumbu Dunia’s cassette Sister Nature returns in time for the Rotifer Cassettes album, Unmankind, where collage of sounds abide by a chaos theory to take form and sonic shape. Rejecting the tagging and terminology that has consumed the obsessions of society at large, Rui Nogueiro titles every recording as, “Hollow”, where the listening audience has to discern new conventions and methods to define and chronicle their response and experience with the audio. From here, a treasure trove of field and found samples are brought to natural orders that find sequences of progressions that make sense in accordance to intuitive levels where congruent observations are made in the unconscious in response to the idiosyncratic nature of artistic, abstract designs. Rui joins us today in the following interview.

What was the inciting incident that established Sumbu Dunia?

No specific moment or situation. It was just a somehow logical continuation of what I was already doing, which I decided to fully embrace in this project.

How do you manage both Sumbu Dunia and Lace Bows?

They come from different places and have very differently specificities, which are never mentioned much, because I don’t think they should influence the listening of the end result. So there’s not really any managing between them per se. Although the fact of not mentioning the concepts behind them might make this obvious only for me, or for people who might be part of them.

Describe the process and sound collages that make up Sister Nature.

As I said before, it’s a way of making sense of this world. I try to find connection points between ‘worlds’ that would seem completely apart, and try to do so in the most respectful manner. What I mean is that I don’t use the sounds as mere sound objects, I am always aware that they have a meaning, culture and context associated to them, and I want to respect that and know more about it as much as I can. It’s a way for me to constantly learn and simultaneously try to find a way of expression. Or to know if that’s possible, at least. Sister Nature is one more chapter in that search.

What lead you to name all the individual titles the same name of, “Hollow”?

Various reasons, mostly related to identity. At the same time, it might be a reaction to our society’s current and growing obsession with tagging and terminology. It’s actually really interesting how people communicate with me when they want to mention a specific song, not having any names to rely on. It surprises me every time. I thought people would end up using their positions in albums or their time, but actually most use feelings or little descriptions to refer to them, which is far more interesting.

How do you describe the Sumbu Dunia creative method?

It’s kind of a long process. Maybe I should spare those who are reading this with all the details, although I don’t really mind to talk about them. Let’s just say it goes through different phases but it always involves a lot of listening. Not listening to records for sample candy specifically, but listening in general. To what I’m making, to what I’m feeling, to the surroundings, etc.

I remember a few months ago someone started a conversation with me at a concert, maybe because we were both alone in there, and started by asking me if I was a musician. When I asked the same back he said, ‘nah, I’m just a listener.’ But I guess there’s no such thing as ‘just’ a listener. It’s an important part of who we are and what we do, I believe. And something not always easy to do. It gets blurred by all the doing. But I’m diverging already.

What is the way of creating a kind of balance out of field sound chaos, and drum and bass dynamics?

I don’t really know. Although it might not sound like it, I don’t think in what I’m doing in terms of drums or bass or beats, etc. As I said above, I have the sounds and their contexts, and I try to find links between them, not in frequencies or tonality or their functional space in the sound spectrum but rather in feeling and possibility and all the like. I don’t really know how to make a song by making a beat and putting a bassline, etc., and I’m not that interested in knowing to be honest. But in end some of the songs might sound like I did just that, which is probably a result of my own cultural influence.

What other Sumbu Dunia and Lace Bows projects are in the works?

Lots of things coming. I’m flying to Lisbon by the end of the month to play a festival, on which I’ll play a new set of songs/sounds only using Jaipongan samples. I hope to release those songs in an album eventually. I’ve been working on new material besides that to send to labels, which I’m really falling behind on. Specially because I take a long time to have something ready. I think that are labels that have asked me for music already a year ago.
Hopefully I’ll also play a few shows in Berlin and Poland with my great friend Paul aka Former Selves. Looking forward to that.

Les Halles

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Baptiste Martin of Carpi Records is Les Halles, who debuts Forum as part of Noumenal Loom’s Winter Batch #2. Keeping the progressive music movement boiling on the stove top, winter is brought through the cabin chamber pop of “Subterranean Fortress”, that ignites the imagination into the wonders that lead into the ambient ether of, “Compressed Crowd”, the mysticism of the, “Mystic of the Great Elevator”, elevating the consciousness along woodwinds and analogue entertainment through the intrigue of, “Urban Black Hole”, or the twinkling and ectoplasms of the softly blinking environments on, “Human Pinball”. Flutes lead you through the “Interlude”, the lazy loops of “Motionless Travel”, organ sustains of forestall sanctuary on “Big Hole Worship”, sending you out on a high note of choral wind-chimes with, “Misleading Familiarity”. Lose your sense of direction and compass with Forum, and check out the following thoughts to accompany your experience of the tape, courtesy of Baptiste Martin.


(wrote a paragraph addressing your questions rather than answering them in a list)

I started recording Forum in April/May, in Montpellier during the time my friends were all leaving the city. It was also my last weeks there. I was in a similar situation when I arrived in October of 2013 and recorded Invisible Cities. I spent days without talking…being alone is inspiring and I need this sometimes. I feel the need to create and share during those moments. Recording music is somehow a way to document my life. Memories are attached to the music I create and when I listen to my tapes months after, my mind is directly back where I recorded them. But I guess most of the musicians feel the same.

After Montpellier, I moved to Lyon and the new environment was also very inspiring. But Lyon is way different from Montpellier. There’s an ambient/experimental scene here. There are shows and interesting things to see every weeks. Most of the people I meet are involved in art projects. I feel emulated, especially with my friends from AB records, who produce music from local musicians.

Concerning personal challenges, I’ve just finished recording some ideas I’ve had in mind since I finished forum. I don’t know if it will be released some day or not, but it’s recorded. The creative process is infinite. Most of the time I focus on a point and turn around until I feel the need to listen to the track on repeat.

I created Carpi records with my former roommate, Charles Magnétophonique, who now lives in Istanbul. We had no pretension, it was just a way to physically release our music while avoiding the process of sending demos to labels who would have probably never answered. We thought it would be great to help other isolated bedroom musicians. We had great surprises!

Later, it helped me to get in touch with different labels, such as Constellation Tatsu and Noumenal Loom – and I want to thank them again for everything they’ve done for me. I’m always fascinated when I realize that people around the globe are listening to what I do, especially when it’s on tape.

Thanks to Carpi, I’ve also met artists I respect and that I want to work with. It’s the case with Former Selves. He’s coming to Lyon next month and we’ll release our new tape at this time.

Wes Tirey

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Wes Tirey’s contribution to Winter Batch #2 presents a man and his guitar just string picking, thinking, and wondering out in Black Mountain, NC. Like your favorite heroes of classic or folk guitar; Wes brings you a taste of the Fahey style and traditions (even down to the song/cassette title) on, Concerning the Disputed Photograph of Crazy Horse. Like these rustic Americana hymns, the initial chords and progressions begin sparse, as the tempo gradually picks up with a kick that imagines adventures down the rocky Appalachian mountain ways. And clocking in at 18 and a half a minutes, the journey and adventure is yours to the taking where new discoveries may be made upon repeat listens. Wes Tirey was entertained our questions about his connection to guitar based music and more in our following interview.

What brought you to the guitar?

I started playing when I was about 14. A friend of mine got a bass, and we talked about starting a band, so I convinced my parents to buy me a guitar — a cheap Squier, to be exact. I’m left-handed, so the shop switched it to lefty, but they didn’t change the nut. It buzzed really bad and basically sounded terrible. But I loved it.

I’ve always been serious about playing, but I didn’t get extremely serious about it until I took up fingerstyle guitar. Then it was the only thing I could think about.

How has the old Takoma back catalog and work of John Fahey informed your style of strumming do you feel?

Discovering the Takoma school, and, more specifically, the work of John Fahey, was radically transformative. It was an immediate transition from one way of thinking about the guitar to another. I felt like I had arrived at someplace that was purely American. The same time I discovered Fahey was about the time I discovered Flannery O’Connor, and his records served as a soundtrack to her work. It was perfect.

But researching Fahey also turned me on to the more experimental acts that were also influenced by his work that I had previously been unaware of. It lead me to stuff like the Jewelled Antler Collective and more drone-based artists. Digging deeper into the experimental guitar world altogether was highly transformative. I discovered everyone from Loren Connors to Zachary Hay (Bronze Horse/The Dove Azima/Green Glass) to the Tompkins Square Imaginational Anthem Series.

As for how those discoveries informed my playing, I think it allowed me to play more viscerally instead of focusing on technique. It gave me a way to translate sentiments I felt towards particular moments, images, and objects to the guitar.

What inspired the 18 minutes and 30 seconds that comprise the ambitious and wandering work of wonder, Concerning the Disputed Photograph of Crazy Horse?

First: thank you for that kind description.

My instrumental pieces are usually always inspired by some kind of American mythic imagery––though it tends to be landscape-based. But I read a short piece by Ian Frazier in college about Crazy Horse, and I’ve never been quite able to shake it. The way he writes about him seems to capture the idea of freedom better than any piece of philosophy could.

I also bought my first 12 string guitar this past summer. I had been obsessing over the playing of Karen Dalton and Reverend Gary Davis––so I found an old Silvertone 12 string from the 60s on Craigslist for $75 and had it converted to lefty.

I think initially I wanted to do some pieces about baseball players––but I started composing the Crazy Horse piece instead. I’m not quite sure If I started it with the idea of it being such an extended piece. I just played freely.

What was the experience like of recording out in Black Mountain, NC?

Well, I live in Black Mountain. I spend a good amount of time hiking in the mountains here, so I inevitably bring those experiences back home with me, and, in one way or another, they inform my writing and recording.

Recording at home is mostly a pragmatic decision. I’m never uncomfortable recording at home––never on a budget, never on a time crunch. I can totally detach and put myself in the proper space. But I do also enjoy the lo-fi aesthetic of it all.

Other recordings in the works?

I recently put out a tape of instrumentals with Twin Springs Tapes, and I have a tape with Cabin Floor Esoterica coming out in March. I also have a piece on the upcoming Tompkins Square Imaginational Anthem compilation (truly honored to be included on that). I’m hoping to start working on a new full-length this spring.

Other like-minded indie artists that you want to give a shout out to?

Maharadja Sweets is definitely at the top of the list. I love Richard’s song so much I can barely stand it. I had the great pleasure of working with him on my album “O, Annihilator”––and to say that it was an honor would be an understatement. Richard is a God among mortals.

Andrew Weathers’ work is stunningly beautiful. I love everything he’s done. I’m lucky to call him a friend––so talented. He’s mixed and mastered a few of my releases and also played on “O, Annihilator.”

My buddy Ryne Warner’s project Ohioan is my favorite band. He lives in Arizona now, but he’s a Buckeye through and through, and you can hear it in his songs. If I could do a collaboration with anyone right now it’d be Ryne.

Tashi Dorji, Sarah Louise, and Shane Parrish are all three Asheville guitarists that I respect, admire, and envy. I’ve shared the stage with them in the past and it’s always such an inspiring experience to see them play. They’re class acts.

I don’t know Scott Tuma––but his work is about the only thing I’ve been listening to for the last couple months and I think it’s some of the most beautiful music ever released.

Finally, all the owners and operators of the tape labels I’ve worked with are incredible artists in their own right. It’s an honor to work with such talented people.

Viktor Longo

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Brooklyn son Viktor Longo switches on his self described style of ‘sci-fi glam folk” on the premiere of “TV On”. Known for his work as Viking and other solo excursions; Longo continues the struggle and search for life’s truths that searches through the reception and transmitters all under the flicker and glow of television tube static. Having released a handful of sparse singles like “Shadows“, “Gentle Moon“, to the larger pop productions heard on The Feeling!; Longo continues to develop the blueprints and architecture of a sound that finds the fiction and reality within the sciences of future folk lullabies and electric glamor.

On the debut of “TV On”, Viktor dims the outside lights and keeps the televised fantasies turned on. The conceits of mirror inspired pop beams a reflection from a vanity set that looks back like a high definition flat screen that spells out scenarios of drama, passion, while spilling out illustrious illustrations of heated expressions like an alt. prime time soap opera. More than just a case of sleeping and dreaming to the projected storylines that stream endlessly from a television feed; debonair liaisons between dilettantes and debutantes are told in song that turns up the synths for a mix of modern and timeless tales that are bound together through the glossy sheen that contemporary technology affords. Following the premiere of “TV On”, we had a chance to talk with Viktor in our interview after the jump.

What is the latest from the Brooklyn scenes?

Right now Palisades has a good thing going on. I really like Art Cafe in Prospect Heights. They host an Indian music night on Wednesdays called Brooklyn Raga Massive. It feels like a tent inside.

Tell us about moving from the more acoustic and sparse folk-songwriting crafts on singles like “Shadows” and “Gentle Moon” to making a big electric pop production like, “TV On”, like a Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers from the future, sent to the present.

I like folk music more than “Folk Music”. It’s an attitude and a spirit more than instrumentation. Looking for or struggling with truth. I’ve always made electronica. I did an album called “Lonely Love Mixtape vol. 1” under the name VIKING. I cycle through different genres depending what works for the song. “TV On” is a catchy song. The instrumentation dances with the words and voice in a nice fun way.

What was it like working with producer Josh Werner, and how do you feel his electric bass and programming affected the recording, and vision for “TV On”?

It came together organically. The electronic drums give it a cold blooded feel and the song is intimate and warm. Josh has an incredible feel on electric bass… it’s smooth yet aggressive. You can wind your waist to it or bang your head. He is a great alchemist. A serious artist and a deep guy. I was scared that he’d bulldoze over the subtlety of the song when he started pushing it into a more aggressive place but I’m glad that I went with it because it turned out beautiful. I learn a lot from him it’s a lot of fun.

What has inspired this particular self-anointed, “sci-fi glam folk” detour?

I stole the sci-fi label from Josh’s band Helio Parallax who play sci-fi dub noir. If I look back I think I’ve always been playing sci-fi glam folk i just didn’t know how to name it!

What else have you been working on?

Recording, shooting videos and playing live. My next gig is at Palisades March 15. I got a video for “TV On” in production and another one for “The Feeling!”.

Favorite unknown Brooklyn artists that you want to give a shout out to?

Lora-Faye. She’s been in hiding for a bit but is coming back. She’s has a highly unique ear for harmonic writing. One of the few voices today that can hit me in the chest. She sounds young and ancient.

Beechwood. Grimy sleazy rock n roll. I just recorded some songs with their frontman Gordon Lawrence.

Gabriel Marques. Beautiful Brazilian singer songwriter. If he pulls out a guitar and starts singing keep an eye on your girlfriend.

Neel Murgai Ensemble. Great Classical Indian meets jazz composer. Lots of atypical time signatures and often deeply emotive. He plays Brooklyn Raga Massive a lot.

Ava Luna. I’d love to get in a studio with them I could learn a lot I think. They are fun.

Alexandra Tatarsky. She has a great voice and has written some songs but she mainly does one woman plays that are outta control. She can turn your whole body on with a glance then flick her hair and make you wanna fart.

Listen to more from Viktor Longo via Bandcamp.

The Bright Smoke

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NYC duo The Bright Smoke is comprised of Mia Wilson and Quincy Ledbetter, who present the world premiere of their metropolis drifting single, “City on an Island”, where audio creations of towns are set to sail across seas like cruise ships. Taken from Mia and Quincy’s upcoming album Terrible Towns, thoughts on city life, claustrophobic chatter, proverbial islands in the sun, and restless feelings slowly burn from The Bright Smoke.

Mia’s voice guides like a lantern through the pomp and circumstances of scenes and schemes, while Quincy’s arrangement slowly chips the earth away to float Manhattan out into a scuzzy sea of guitars that bathed in feedback, and slight electronic applications. Disenchantment and firm desires can be heard in Mia’s impassioned delivery, where frustration with the game and fickle machines of industry are exploded into a transformations where Quincy’s guitars and productions turn the hustle and bustle of downtown districts into a holiday resort (and refuge), arranged by their own accord. The Bright Smoke’s Mia and Quincy both chatted with us earlier this week about their single, “City on an Island”, Terrible Towns, and more, after the following debut.

How did the two of you meet and where did the name, The Bright Smoke, originate from?

Mia: We met about 6 years ago in New York City through a mutual friend and band mate of mine that Quincy went to high school with back in the day. This was never supposed to be a band, I set out to do a solo project and asked Quincy to produce my first album and it became evident pretty quickly that this whole deal would be much more fun with both of us involved.

I batted around a number of band names before settling on The Bright Smoke, they were all super terrible and should never be resurrected – one was Model Exes, another was a French surname that is completely unpronounceable. Just so, so bad.

The imagery of the name The Bright Smoke seemed kind of inviting and had an ambiguity to it as well. We wanted to avoid having people who didn’t know us see the name and think ‘I know EXACTLY what that’s going to sound like and I HATE IT!’ The name as it is now doesn’t really give an indication of any specific genre or band set-up. It could be one person, it could be nine, it could be no one. Like if neither of us showed up, it would be no one.

Quincy: …or you can believe that a time traveling George Carlin brought us together while we were putting together a high school history project and our band name was Wyld Stallyns before we decided that The Bright Smoke was more accessible. I’ll let your readers decide which story to believe.

How do two of you describe your own creative approach to music writing and arranging?

Mia: For whatever it was in the past, this album marks a big shift in how I’ve approached writing and arranging in general. Before I think I was more content with things that came easily to me. However, for Terrible Towns I really wanted to make a grand gesture, so to speak. I sat down to work at the absolute edge of my technique and ability, to purposefully write things I didn’t know if I could pull off or not — voicings that would often get away from me at the beginning, tunings I didn’t know my way around, structures that took me weeks instead of hours to nail down. And when we got into the studio we really kept with that — we made things pretty difficult on ourselves over the 11 months it took to write and record this. Partially, I think we did that to see if we could actually get through it.

Quincy: I dig all sorts of music, but I am most drawn to anything that feels like it was made with complete artistic freedom. Not every arrangement needs a chorus. Not every song needs an ultra pristine mix. You can always tell when an artist is truly expressing themselves and when they’re just pandering to you. Let’s just make some great music that makes people feel something, you know? I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious, but I’m not in the business of making hits. I’m trying to make classic records that will resonate with people, and that’s only possible through honesty and freedom.

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Tell us about how the environment of NYC has contributed to “City on an Island”, and the upcoming Terrible Towns release.

Mia: “City on an Island” was the first song I wrote for this album after what seemed like a series of never-ending disappointing conversations and interactions regarding art and music. We were also in the middle of getting our previous album off the ground and trying to mount a sufficient live show and tour, etc. So, the environment around the song was a perfect combination of hemorrhaging money and people asking me if we played the kind of music they heard at their nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. I was having a lot of trouble being around people so I just stopped doing that for the most part and wrote the album instead — it was that or toss my phone into the river and move into a lighthouse.

The title Terrible Towns isn’t necessarily New York City specific, but more a nod to how people can regard the places they are from in relation to the places they think they’d rather be.

Quincy: What I love most about living in this city is that it’s full of freaks, and I mean that in the best way possible. When you’re surrounded by people who are constantly taking risks and creating just for the sake of creating, then you can’t help but be influenced by that. When we started making this record that vibe was definitely an influence.

Favorite off-the-radar indie NYC artists you all dig?

Mia: There is an artist named Reigen who writes these really earnest, awesome, danceable pop songs totally devoid of pretension and his live show is one million percent balls out choreographed-synthpop-singing-dance-party, it’s just nuts. I think if I had even a fraction of that I could be an evil, intergalactic, glitter-covered warlord.

Quincy: There is a DJ named AKA Suga who has a band called AKA Suga & The Uninvited. They’re ridiculously dope live and they look like something Quentin Tarantino would see in a dream.

Further thoughts and philosophies from The Bright Smoke?

Mia: Quincy is the man for thoughts and philosophies. He is sage-like in his wisdom. I yell at my guitar strings when they break.

Quincy: The music industry is dead and we’re all doing this Weekend at Bernie’s thing where we’re holding it up by the shoulders, acting like it’s still alive and dancing around. We all have an opportunity to create our own industry. Let’s all get busy building whatever is next because that’s what I’ve signed up to do.

The Bright Smoke’s new album Terrible Towns will be available this May via Bandcamp.

Santiparro

Santiparro, otherwise known as Alan Scheurman, photographed by Indy Genao.

Santiparro, otherwise known as Alan Scheurman, photographed by Indy Genao.

We recently had the pleasure of talking with Santiparro, aka Alan Scheurman, about his ‘medicine songs’ and more, and also present the premeire of “Total Freedom” feat. Young Magic’s Melati Malay and NewVillager’s Ben Bromley. The mystical, Brooklyn based artist was dubbed the name Santiparro (meaning roughly “lens that sees the many things not normally seen) by a Wixatari (Huichol) family during a pilgrimage/peyote vision quest to Wirikuta. With his mind expanding album, True Prayer available February 24 from Gnome Life; further appearances and cameos are made by TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone, Bear in Heaven’s Adam Wills, and the venerable Will Oldham. Right now Santiparro requests some five minutes of your time for a spiritual journey to understand the true meaning of pure, unbridled liberty of the spirit and being.

“Total Freedom” takes off on a strong, tripped out foundation of 100% pure vibrations. Alan and Melati and Ben sing a psychedelic chorus, chanting “it’s a been a long time,” to proverbs and similes like, “life is a garden, we never die,” to repeating the song’s title. Sitar strings and percussion charms dance throughout the mind of the listener as woodwinds lift up the listener even higher and deeper into the trip, chanting, “everyday we’re getting closer to total freedom…” So relax your mind, open the blinds, enjoy the great outdoors, tune in, turn on, drop out of the world’s superficial systems and seek the determination to discover the real worth of life’s own inherent, perpetual consciousness. In an extensive and in-depth interview discussion, we got a unique view into the world of Santiparro, and friends.

First, I want to hear stories about your pilgrimage with a Wixatari (Huichol) family to Wirikuta, and what sorts of spiritual visions were experienced?

There’s a super long, synchronistic backstory to this involving my first journey to Mexico and meeting elders from the Maya, Lancandon, Mazatec, and Wixatari traditions. One day I’ll write a book about it. For the sake of space I’ll stick to the pilgrimages in Wirikuta. I met the Marakame Orramuire immediately upon my arrival to Mexico in 2010 after dreams and visions of Maya pyramids dared me to go. The meeting was completely unplanned – I had no contact with him beforehand. That being said, it was my intention to eventually find him and his family and make a visit to their home high upon the Sierra Madre in Jalisco. I had recently completed my Permaculture Design Certification course at the Pine Ridge reservation and saw a video a friend of mine had made with Orramuire talking about their lack of access to water due to deforestation. I had hoped to eventually find a way to meet them to see what I might be able to do to help them with their water crisis. Needless to say, Spirit heard the request and put us in the back of the same pick-up truck when I arrived in Tulum. Orramuire and his family just happened to be visiting in Tulum and staying with a friend I had met only a few months prior in Sedona because we both were wearing huichol beadwork. This Marakame also happened to be a close friend of my spiritual teacher, Maestro Manuel Rufino. I spent the first two weeks of my first three month journey in Mexico with Orramuire and his family in peyote (hikuri) ceremonies, learning directly from their tradition and the medicine they carry. We parted ways eventually, but to my surprise I would find the Marakame “randomly” on various street corners in different cities around Mexico selling his art and playing his violin. He invited me to assist in his ceremonies, extending also an invitation to his village and to their sacred pilgrimage to Wirikuta to hunt the blue deer — Kayumari — Hikuri — Grandfather Peyote. Naturally I accepted. The spiritual vision one receives from immersion into a traditional culture does not only come from the plant medicines. It comes from the ritualistic approach to life in general. The Wixatari see the whole world as sacred – everything is acted upon ceremoniously. They ask permission to the spirit moving through each thing before they make decisions. They also walk in beauty — everyone is an artist, a musician, and a healer to varying degrees. Before they go to collect the hikuri, there are weeks of elaborate preparatory ceremonies. The journey to get to Wirikuta is mysterious — everything is given a new name in order to enter into the sacred. Several offerings and confessions at sacred sites and bodies of water must be made to purify before one can enter Wirikuta. Once there everything is different. You’re in another plane. The sky is different, everything — it’s difficult to put into words. One important vision I received on my first visit to Wirikuta was from the spirit of Tobacco. I was still abusing tobacco at that point — smoking cigarettes. The spirit very clearly entered my vision — took my body apart, cleaned it and put it back together — gave me a secret name and told me “you already breathe toxic air because of your daily environment. My smoke is not to be inhaled into the lungs. Everything has polarity. I can be medicine. I can be poison. Follow the original instructions in order to work with me for the benefit of yourself and others.’ Immediately after I quit smoking and completely changed my relationship with tobacco. Now I only work with it for prayer. It is never inhaled.

There’s a film online called The Last Peyote Guardians. I was involved behind the scenes during my second pilgrimage to Wirikuta. It’s a very important documentary and I recommend folks check it out.

How did you get involved with Maestro Manuel Rufino, and how have your pilgrimages to visit and study with elders all throughout South America have affected your musical vision?

A close friend of mine from Detroit had been living in New York for six years and had gone through a lot of noticeable changes for the better. I was in college and was doing some directed research at Yale and the New York Public Library for a paper I was writing back in 2007 when she invited me to a healing ceremony. I was an atheist when I walked in. During that night, however, I entered the spirit world and met beings that showed me a glimpse of my future (all of which has come true). I needed guidance in order to integrate these new experiences. The same friend who invited me to the ceremony was also involved in a spiritual study group with a focus on shamanism led by don Manuel. I started making regular trips once a month from Detroit to New York to begin studying with him. He’s very loving, a trickster of a teacher — he was very hard on me, because I needed it. He’s very gifted in teaching westerners on how to approach the sacred. Many of us have become disillusioned with anything that can be associated with religion because of the abuse of power we’re all well aware of. Yet, we end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater in that way. We miss our chance to perceive and communicate with life in other dimensions on a regular basis because of our arrogance. Maestro Rufino helped me to purify a lot of negativity I was carrying so that I could begin to live a spiritually engaged life. Through him and his teacher Master Domingo Dias Porta, many people have been introduced to elders of various traditions with the invitation to participate in sacred pilgrimages, rites, rituals and ceremonies.

Needless to say, over the course of seven years my worldview has completely changed — the things that are truly important to me have been revealed really through the work I’ve been blessed to do with indigenous elders. I used to write some pretty dark lyrics in my early twenties. When we work in ceremony, however, we’re making agreements with spirit to help us clean our minds, open our hearts, heal our bodies, etc. In order to have success in this type of spiritual work we need to keep our part of the agreement — whatever it is. For me, I agreed to dedicate my music to consciousness, to reflect everything I had been experiencing.

Tell us about working Will Oldham and a whole army of all kinds of notables. How did everyone’s contributions impact the recordings?

Will has been like a big brother from start to finish on this record. He periodically checks in via email to see how things are going. In reality, if it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have put together the record with the motivation I did. I met him first in a dream while in Peru. The next day I was in New York and asked a friend if he was playing any time soon. He happened to be playing the next day so we went to see him. I gave him some Palo Santo after the concert. He recognized me from the Ka album cover (he had a copy of the record). He looked at me that night and said something like, ‘you should be putting out records, prolifically. that’s what you should be doing.’ It made a deep impact on me and gave me a lot of confidence to focus on making music again. When he agreed to sing on the record I was beyond stoked. That goes for everyone that contributed to the record — those that are known in the music world and those that aren’t. It’s definitely helpful to have everyone’s contributions because collaborations grow the web and increase the curiosity of folks who might not have otherwise ever heard of the record. It also gives the album some extra dynamic, another voice here and there. I don’t have a band right now so bringing in Kyp, or Melati, or Adam Wills brings some variety to the sonic element.

What’s next for the path of Santiparro and company?

Ben Dickinson (Ghost Robot) and I are flying out to Louisville at the end of the month to shoot a video for “The Benefit Of Confrontation” with Will. Right after that my wife and I are going on a six week tour / camping adventure ending in California followed by a trip back to the Amazon. After May I have absolutely no idea what’s in store though I hope to eventually get overseas and tour for the record as well as to continue to be on the road in the US.

Notes on the Detroit by Brooklyn transitions for you?

Well now I’m living in the Catskills in the house where Young Magic lives and records. I recorded part of T” here too. Detroit is beautiful. The people there are remarkably talented. I have been visiting again fairly regularly. Whenever I’m in Brooklyn I notice anywhere from 4 to 10 Detroit baseball caps on any given day. I’m happy I moved there. I learned how to be an entrepreneur there. I learned how to walk fast. But at this point I’m happier to be living in the mountains, across from a lake, about to become a nomad again.

Wisdom and prayers for 2015?

Well, it’s about to become the year of the sheep right? From what I’ve read this is an energy that leads to more peace in the mind, and thus more peace in action. I pray that we can all find peace in the mind, in our thoughts, so that we can choose our actions with wisdom. Like always, I encourage everyone to approach life as a student, the earth our school. There are wise people waiting to share with us the secrets of the universe to the best they know them. There are a lot of things constantly distracting us from what is truly important. A question to meditate upon: How can we benefit the generations coming with what it is that we are creating?

Santiparro’s album True Prayer will be available February 24 from Gnome Life.

Lanterna

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Lanterna debuts the video for “Backyards” Badman Recording Co

Henry Frayne (of Ack-Ack, Area, The Syndicate, and The Moon Seven Times) returns with his project, Lanterna, premiering the nostalgic video of Super8 captured memories for, “Backyards”, off the upcoming album of the same name available February 17 from Portland’s Badman Recording Co. A release that echoes his guitar contributions to previous bands Henry has played with in the past, he described the groundwork for Backyards as a re-visitation the familiar ingrained tunes he had been hearing in mind for years. “Much of the time between 2006 and 2014 was literally spent in one backyard or another working on outdoor projects great and small, but Backyards was always playing in the back of my mind!”

Working with director Erich Stenzel, Henry’s instrumental guitar performance is seen in between vintage movies of playing basketball in the cold, games of junior football, home films, and warm moments that are matched by the autobiographic pen of Frayne’s guitar pick. Henry talked with us about the meaning behind his chords in our interview feature that begins after the following video debut of “Backyards”.

Like the Super8 memories that you and Erich Stenzel incorporated in the video for “Backyards”, what sorts of connections and progressions do you find in the space between between nostalgia and the present, and how that inspires your selection of chords for your compositions?

If one lives in the town where one grew up, Champaign, one is bound to have places (that still stand) bringing to mind the past. The Super8 images shot by my father and myself are of places just down the block from where I live now. So, I’d say rather than ever try to understand nostalgia and the present, I just let it wash over me,… Strumming and creating these Backyards songs in backyards and on porches in the past was certainly influenced by having played and grown up in and on those same backyards and porches!

Now, chords? Yes, a chord and a couple of ringing notes can certainly bring to mind a certain mood or, nostalgia for me. There are certain chords that are very comfortable and do find their way into different songs now and then.

How do you find the recordings of The Syndicate, Ack-Ack, Area, and The Moon Seven Times making cameos throughout Backyards, as a sort of tapestry that you have been working on for years in a sense?

In one way, the guitars and amps used on Backyards are the same ol’ guitars and amps I’ve been using since my days in The Syndicate, ’81 – ’83. The feel of an old guitar, an amp warming up, a particular tone or buzz,… it makes one remember why one started playing in the first place. Up until just a few years ago the recordings of The Syndicate, Ack-Ack, Area and The Moon Seven Times were only playing in my mind, since then I’ve actually listened to and archived almost all live and studio recordings I could get my hands on. So, for sure, all these bands influenced the finished Backyards in one way or another. Certainly the people I’ve played with over the years have all helped to form what Backyards became.

More Independent Music
Health + Fiasco + Pictureplane in Greensboro, NC

Reflections on Champaign, Illinois from throughout the years, to the scene now. Latest and greatest local heroes? Anecdotes?

Champaign has always had a great music scene and that continues on today. It is a great mix of people, some who grew up here and some who came to visit and maybe stayed and stayed.

There are two bands that were my first glimpses of bands that were, “from around here” who made records (DIY and for a major) and toured the countryside far and wide.

One was Starcastle, an American, or should I say THE American progressive rock band and their album Fountains of Light, and the other The Vertebrats whom I went to see with future/fellow Syndicate member Matt Hurt in December of 1979 on the campus of the University of Illinois.

Starcastle’s Fountains of Light arrived on my turntable thanks to my brother in January of 1977. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker the album is a punchy, sparkling world of Moog and other synths, guitars of all manner, topped with heavenly lead and background voices. Friend Matt Hurt delivered newspapers to their “band house” and it was one more instance of correlating music that sounded like it was from another world with the knowledge that they lived just down the street on Park Street in Champaign (and were signed to Epic Records – during the good old orange label logo days!).

Sitting in the audience a few feet away from The Vertebrats during one of their first shows in the Channing-Murray Foundation Chapel was an eye-opening experience for me. Guitarist Matt Brandabur was in high school with me and it was amazing seeing someone who walked the halls of Central High School onstage with a band playing songs that they had written. Two guitars, bass, drums, vocals,… it could have been a scientific lecture on how great rock & roll is formulated! Following the Vertebrats for the next few years as they had a song, Left In The Dark, on Bomp’s Battle of the Garages and then released their own 7-inch single showed me that people I knew could make records!

Both bands, Starcastle and The Vertebrats, obviously made me think, “I want to do THAT too!” And in one way or another I’m still trying to do, “THAT” with the new album Backyards.

It is sometimes interesting to wonder how things would be different had it not been for these bands of one’s youth…bands one listened to and played in!

Wisdom for all aspiring guitar pickers?

Remember your picks (if you use them) when walking onstage! There’s nothing like the reaction you get when asking your bass player who doesn’t use picks for a pick!

Lanterna’s Backyards will be available February 17 from Badman Recording Co.

Galanos

Introducing: Galanos.

Introducing: Galanos.

Meet Kingston, New York’s Galanos, who premiere a listen to their debut 7″ single, “Wait For It”; splashing foreboding chords and visions of chaotic tempest like disruptions of sea, and spiralling whirlwind cyclones of sand. With a moniker that translates from Spanish to English as ‘silver tongued devils,’ the first listen off their upcoming Vacation Cannons album presents a backdrop score of sinister surf-like licks to support the part mumbling/part singing delivery from vocal lead, Gregory D. Jaw.

Galanos transform NYC into a dusty OK Corral stand off, where waiting games involving deputy figures, heroes, villains, super-villains and more square off in a pensively produced song that props up the virtues of patience being edified above all else. Jaw’s shamble and tremble-core vocals quake and shake to the trusty beat brought by D.W. Friend, the spondaic sequences of JP’s basslines that together get caught in a dust bowl storm that sends wayward winds and warning flares coast to coast; and to the ends of the earth. After the following debut of “Wait For It”, check out our interview session with Galanos frontman, Gregory D. Jaw.

What brought you all together as Galanos?

I had been writing material alone for a while, after my last band, The Brides, took a hiatus. D.W. was in that band with me along with several other projects stretching back in time. I’ve known Joe since I was in high school. He was working on his band The 65’s when he heard the stuff I was demoing in my spider infested basement. He really dug it and expressed an interest in being a part of it. Krista is my S.O. and I am lucky that she is both a great singer and a wonderful artist. I was dealing with the death of a family member and the material I wrote was cathartic for me. After having been involved in hardcore, punk, and garage for many years, Galanos was a departure for me, a chance for me to reflect.

With a name that roughly translates to ‘silver tongued devils’, did you all ever hear that Kris Kristofferson record of the same name?

That is some wonky bearded jambi head on that YouTube link. I’ll have to give it a chance. Our name comes from Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea. The Galanos sharks tear apart Santiago’s marlin. They are the id impulse, pure appetite (for destruction) and it is ironic that the term actually relates to being a gentleman. Without getting too ridiculously full of my own bullshit, I’d say the name is an analogy for the self-destructive impulse, which is often buried in what some might call the subconscious. It’s about facing the shitty parts of yourself or your life and embracing them, forging something from them.

What is the story behind the indie boogie board, surf and turf of “Wait For It”?

“Wait For It” is a song about doing just that. About being promised something and never getting it. In this case, an unattainable relationship with a woman, or rather, a relationship with someone which exists in the realm of fantasy. Like a vacation romance, you never know the person because to do so would be to demystify them. You fly across the world to be with them for a week. You have great sex, you eat well, you don’t work your job, everything is storybook. You are in love with yourself through a stranger’s eyes. Like when you meet the members of one of your favorite bands and they’re all assholes. It’s the dream, the sunset on a can of hairspray from the 70s across a couple’s silhouettes and not the chemical compound within.

Describe for us what it was like working with Kevin Lacatena at Homebrew Studio out of Sparta, NJ to record Vacation Cannons?

Kevin is awesome. He is intuitive on the board. He’s a fun guy. He’s got tons of experience and even more modesty. Homebrew is a wonderful space to bang out some tunes.

What sorts of vacations inspired the album and title?

I think the concept has something to do with the destruction of illusion. Also, an attempt to pirate others’ bliss. The songs may be dreamy at times, but the subject matter is generally rooted in the universal human experience of loss, grief, and anger. There is great beauty in human experience. To vacate, to leave, to remove yourself and become introspective.

Other cool things happening in Kingston, NYC, or other local artists you all want to give a shout out to?

Kingston has really blown up the past few years. Mike at BSP and Brandy at The Anchor have done a lot for the music scene up here. The O+ Festival, which we were happy to be a part of last year, is also doing great things, bringing lots of great music to the area while also offering free health and wellness services. I’ve been up here for eleven years, having moved up from NYC with Krista, and have really seen the place change. Some of that change seems beneficial from my perspective and some not as beneficial.

Alge

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We covered the recent single and remix for the moving “Spirit of St. Louis” from LA artist, Alge (born Jon Weinman), and we continue our coverage with a listen to the already much lauded and loved single, “Truth or Diamonds”. The dark and preachiness of the manufactured realities and material matters break under their own didactic, as Weinman deals with polemic prism parables that shine a light on the disaffected reactionary world of media, mass production, and the way technocratic URL based systems can have IRL ramifications. Alge at the core pleads for a genuine care, and reaches for the substance of genuine truths that gleam brighter than the most illustrious stones and pearls. Jon shared the following exclusive thoughts, words, and sentiments on the new single:

“Truth or Diamonds” is a song I’m really excited to share, because I think it is a logical continuation of what I was trying to get at in my first single. “The Spirit of St. Louis” was a deeply felt song, in many ways an artistic reaction to current events, that beckoned the listener to look beyond the poisonous media onslaught that tries so hard to confuse, desensitize and alienate us from one another. It was a personal reminder that all roads converge on the inside and that the missing link to our transcendence has been at the tips of our fingers the entire time. We must simply reach for it. “Truth or Diamonds” deals much in the same subject matter, this time shining a light upon the widely unseen yet ubiquitous forces that exert such an absurd level of control on our lives. Major industries such as pharmaceuticals, defense, mass media and entertainment pump us so full of destruction and distraction that we live in a stupor, unable to connect to our essential essence, to assume our rightful place as part of the collective consciousness. Despite these harsh realities, we still have the choice to combat these forces on our own terms. We can chose between truth or diamonds, between a spiritual oneness of our electric blue hearts or the apathetic orgy of violence and conspicuous consumption that we are force fed. We can continue to act in hyper real cinema, or we can get off the freedom train and start taking real care of one another.

Grave Pool

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Nashville’s Devan Köchersperger is Grave Pool, sewing melancholy dream pop for icy cold winter days, and the spring morning chills. Today, Grave Pool premieres his sophomore LP, Mnemonics available February 17 from 80s Ladies Records. Following up the single, “Through The Skylight“; “Mnemonic” muses through the attachments to nostalgic feeling, where Devan’s hushed but harmonic delivery makes snow angels alongside guitars and synths.

The opening keyboards on “Mnemonics” descends like frozen flakes that rest all around rural houses built out of the warmth generated by the mix. Memories of holidays and places past spring to mind, treasured times with family, lost friends, and slide show like recollection reels from the blankets of sound that create the feeling of being snowed in for a day, left to your own comforts and solitude. Devan wrote us the following on the mnemonic devices behind the song of the same name:

“Mnemonics” is a song written about my frequent inability to remove nostalgic value from the situations around me. Rather than using mnemonic devices to remember orders or names, the mnemonics of my life remind me of my inability to change the past. However, remembrances keep the past living on through their cautious guiding of the future.

Mnemonics is an album I recorded in my bedroom throughout all four seasons of 2014. It’s a hazy melding of dream and synth pop songs structured around themes of nostalgia, solitude, and distance. Inspired by the divination practice of tasseography, most of the songs began as melodies on a miniature Casio keyboard from the early ’80s. These phrases matured as they looped and expanded into richly orchestrated works of reverb and echoes. The final result is a debut LP that recalls the dreamy sentiments of Creation and Sarah Records, while looking forward to the uncertain future

Mnemonics will be available February 17 from 80s Ladies Records.

Color Collage

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You might have known Color Collage’s Shane Conerty when the Asheville artist operated under the Leann Grimes handle, and now debuts his anticipated single, “2048”. Shane developed the project out a predilection for dissecting downloaded mp3s to create his own curated remixes, to creating tropical vignettes he professes as electronic doo wop. Available now via Brooklyn’s Paper Garden Records, heart painted holidays strum and sway with the beachbound sentiment of forward thoughts that are often dreamt, composed, and recorded all from the confines one’s room.

Color Collage takes us to an exotic get away, sharing tales of perception, and songs of caution on “2048”. A dystopian tale set in the “ridiculous” and “ubiquitous” technocratic-totalitarian future, a series of stories on communicating with mind reading taxis, android discourse, and more gets to heart of things beyond the bleeps and boops. The music remains but hopefully, and upbeat while visions of an all consuming tech takeover of the world sets in before you know it. Waves of the future like moving a computer mouse with your mind and built in eyeball cameras allude toward the Google Glass Explorer phenomenon. “I took a picture with my eyes, it finally looks like I described it.” The technological evolutions provide innovative advancements, as Conerty lends some warm words of warning about a singularity that is more cold and isolating than what we have seen yet. Describing all this and more further — we caught up with Color Collage’s Shane Conerty in our interview following a listen to, “2048”.

Give us the narrative of the story arc that saw your creative transformation from Leann Grimes to Color Collage.

There were a few main factors in putting Leann Grimes to bed. When I first started doing it, it was just a fun hobby to pursue in my down time from touring with my old band, Now You See Them. I’d scour blogs for new tracks to sample, trying to make a mixtape that the bloggers would go nuts for and use tracks that were all over the ‘best of’ lists. NYST was my platform for songwriting at the time, and I used LG to improve my production technique. When the band split up and I moved back to New York, I didn’t have anyone involved anymore so I starting using my computer to make arrangements for songs until I got some other people on board. I got super focused on making music that way, and the album was a byproduct of that. Also, Grimes got really popular right around the same time and I was getting Google Alerts like: “Are Grimes and Leann Grimes the same person?” That seemed like a good time to ditch the moniker and use something a little bit more serious to match the change in the music.

Describe what the term ‘electronic doo wop’ means to you.

Well, I had been working on the record for a while and was playing shows and going to shows and people would ask me what my music sounded like. It was really hard for me to accurately describe it, so I just started telling people it was ‘electronic doo wop’ music. Naturally, no one had heard of that genre before because I made it up. I just rolled with it after that, and it ended up sticking. What if that becomes a thing now where a bunch of bands start making similar sounds? We could call it ‘doo wave’ or ‘wop wave.’ Yeah, probably not ‘wop wave.’

I was also kicking around the idea of forming an all-guy modern Doo Wop band and calling it “Dude Wop”. Color Collage works just fine, though.

What is it about the year 2048 that caught your fancy, and became the title of this single?

Initially, I was going to release the track a long time ago, when that game 2048 was really popular. The one where you keep adding up numbers to get to 2048? It also just seemed like a good year to set this futuristic story in. A lot of the imagery from the song are things that aren’t really too far off from happening with technology, which is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Like, I saw an article about scientists hooking up people’s brains to computers and having them will the computer mouse to move with their minds. Pretty wild.

Also, Google and Uber have a self-driving car pretty much ready to go? What?!? I was also watching a lot of that show Black Mirror when I was working on this song. The vibe of that show definitely worked its way into the lyrics.

Other recordings in the works you can tell us about?

I’m currently finishing up mixing and mastering on the first full-length album. It’s called “Pieced Together” for a lot of different reasons.

It references the way I create tracks for this project, taking little pieces of sampled drums and things and putting them together to make it sound somewhat cohesive. The songs themselves are from all over the place, too. There’s a song that I wrote was I was 18, I song I wrote a few months ago, songs I wrote down South that the band used to play, you get the idea. The album’s going to be coming out later this year on the wonderful Paper Garden Records and I’m really thrilled about that. I also go busking in the subway a lot here in Brooklyn, so I have this idea to record a live EP down there with some songs from the album before it’s released. Still working out the logistics for that one ha.

Notes to share from the Asheville, NC scenes?

Asheville is really great. I spent 4 years down there touring with Now You See Them and busking on the streets for extra money. I didn’t have a ‘job’ for years. I don’t think that’s possible in a lot of other places in the United States. The music scene there is unlike any I’ve ever experienced. It’s not competitive, it’s collaborative.

Everyone is constantly working with each other and lending their talents just because they want to and it’s fun. It’s not like New York where people are trying to get paid for session work and ‘climb the ladder’ as the saying goes.

Asheville artists you want to give a shout out to?

Oh man. That’s like a Dad being asked which one of his kids he loves the most ha. There are so many ridiculously talented musicians in Asheville. It’s kind of alarming. I’ve gotta give love to my friends RBTS WIN. They’ve encouraged me to grow and develop as an artist for years now. They actually did a remix of “2048” which will be available along with my remix of 2048 when you download the single. There’s another band called Holy Ghost Tent Revival who have also been great friends and inspiration for ages now. They basically sound like the lovechild of The Band and Dr. Dog. Check them out for sure. Their live show is super solid. Also, my old band mate Dulci Ellenberger just recently started working on a solo album. It’s being produced by Seth Kauffman from the band Floating Action. I can’t wait to hear what they cook up together. The list goes on and on and on. Boom clap. Rant complete. Thanks!

Color Collage’s single “2048” is available now via Brooklyn’s Paper Garden Records.

Lenparrot

Introducing: Lenparrot, artwork via à deux doigts.

Introducing: Lenparrot, artwork via à deux doigts.

This week saw the emergence of the track, “Les Yeux en Cavale”, the first single from Lenparrot’s upcoming EP, Aquoibonism available in April from Atelier Ciseaux. A French duet based out Nantes, sparse arrangements bring ghost-like waves of woe and lamentation the mourn the loss of eyes, and set a song of struggle against a back drop of murmuring electric percussion, and rumbling bass. The drama plays out like a European cautionary tale coupled by the bedroom IDM attitudes of self-sewn beats add to the intrigue and allure of Lenparrot. We got deeper behind the ideas, concepts, and cogs that that make up the project with our interview with the artist, immediately following the listen to the new single.

Describe the story of eye loss and existential aches that make up the sparse, “Les Yeux en Cavale”.

Les Yeux en Cavale is inspired by a 1960 french movie directed by Georges Franju — Les Yeux sans Visage. It’s the movie that scared my grandfather the most when he was young — I guess that’s why I decided to start from the flashbacks I had of this film. How to deal with the fact that your eyes — and by extension your own vision — were coming up to life and then decide to run away from your face.

What is the story on the origins of Lenparrot?

Lenparrot is a reference to Baxter Dury’s first LP — Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift. It is one the albums that I love the most — the one that I listened on repeat (with Women’s Public Strain) when I composed the first Lenparrot songs. When I decided to start my own solo project alongside Rhum for Pauline and Pegase, it seemed obvious to pay tribute to this record.

Give us the latest on the scenes in Nantes. I always hear amazing things about the teroir out there.

It’s true ! Nantes is the homeland of a lot of fantastic bands, labels and collectives. It’s a true pleasure to belong to the FVTVR family (the label built by Minitel Rose members — Rhum for Pauline and Pegase headquarter). Each and every year brings a couple of new formations to discover. Recently, I met the guys from Bantam Lyons — this band is about to be the next big blast in town!

What was it like making the Aquoibonism EP?

When Rémi Laffitte (from Atelier Ciseaux) decided to release my first EP, I picked up five songs which — built together — could synthesize my universe the best. It’s like an an æsthetic manifesto — but fucked up. Not that I’m disappointed of my music, but it has no virtues to proclaim. This is why I called this record Aquoibonism: À quoi bon? means What’s the point? in french. Let’s try and we’ll see!

How do you two describe your own songwriting process?

It always deals with pieces: words, sounds, images. It can be a memory – it was with Les Yeux en Cavale and the reminiscence of this old movie. At the end, it sometimes has nothing to do with the starting point. The only rule is to respect the initial feeling.

Post-release plans for Lenparrot?

To tour everywhere! I have been contacted by several booking agents. I try to be patient, to take my time. But at the same time, I’m overexcited by what is happening to me those days ! I’m extremely pleased to be part of the Atelier Ciseaux label. I hope to release a second EP with them if they are up to. Again: let’s try and we’ll see!

The Aquoibonism EP will be available in April from Atelier Ciseaux.

Yonatan Gat

Yonatan Gat, photographed by Adam PW Smith Photography.

Yonatan Gat, photographed by Adam PW Smith Photography.

Laying down the opening track from side-b of Director (available March 3 from Joyful Noise); Yonatan Gat (of Tel Aviv’s notorious/legendary/controversial/creative Monotonix) lent the vertical compass trip of “North To South”. Finding a prog-jam sort of form with Gat’s chord collage guitars, Gal Lazer’s steadfast and solid backbeat, and Sergio Saygeg’s basslines and vocals chase the cascade of licks and riffs that are born of improvised sessions that seek to find new expressive forms, and searching for a taste of that mythic (and nutritous) “sorghum syrup”. Being nearly five years since Yonatan and I kicked it tent style backstage at Treasure Island Music Fest, we were reunited across long distance cables in our following interview after the jump.

Describe the synergy that you and the trio posses to make the kind of improvisational guitar textures that are sewn throughout “Goldrush” and the Director album.

Our show is based on improvisation. We write music as we play, but we also improvise on themes and ideas we previously worked on, that’s why we call it improvisation and not “jamming”. The idea is that improvisation leads to a different kind of playing. Much more intuitive, honest, comes from the soul. When done right, it becomes the person that you are at the moment, no obstructions. We have some premeditated ideas, but once the song starts, literally anything can happen.

How do you all forge a creative bond together?

Improvisation has a lot to do with the relationship between the players, so most our conversations are about how we handle each other’s ideas and new things we’d like to attempt. It’s very abstract, and we try to stay out of each other’s way musically so everyone gets the maximum amount of intuition and freedom. There is usually an idea that is leading the way – something we are trying to convey or achieve in our music. We try to do it together, so it requires a lot of talking, often about issues that are non-musical.

What was it like working with the awesome Chris Woodhouse, and how do you feel he affected the recordings?

Woodhouse is great. He works in a small studio called the Dock in Sacramento next to a banana ripening factory. It’s a bizarre scene, but he uses every nook and cranny of that space, shoving microphones in the stairway, keeping the close-mics isolated. He has a lot of tricks to get a sound that is compact and huge at the same time. We always loved his recording technique, and were happy to have him involved in our process by helping us choose takes, running around the room moving microphones during our improvisations, in editing, and in mixing using analog tape delay and spring reverbs on the guitar and drums in radical ways. He also played some beautiful slide guitar and organ on the song “Casino Café”.

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What is up with the rest of the Monotonix crew these days?

Ami and Haggai started families in the last few years. I think they enjoy spending time at home with their kids. Ami has a new project called Ha Partizanim, it’s Israeli folk songs with acoustic guitars and he burns stuff and makes a mess all over the place. Haggai is a session man on drums in Israel, where he’s considered one of the best. We all keep in touch all the time.

Will there ever be another Monotonix album on the horizon?

Ami and I went to Tim Green’s Louder Studios in Nevada City to work on a new record. It turned out instrumental, a bit krauty. But I’ve been so busy with this new project that I haven’t had much time to think about it. We’re also talking about releasing a photography book from our shows. It’s going to be really beautiful when it will be ready. So there are definitely some interesting stuff, but no intention of playing shows any time soon. Although the band was growing fast when we parted ways – we still feel we said what we had to say.

Director will be available March 3 from Joyful Noise.

Yung Life

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Brothers Gabriel and Elliott White and friends are back with hot new Yung Life vibes to maximize the bliss of your week. The new single “Jungle” b/w “Brothers” bounces and swings from a forest of percussive frenzies, with the a-side busting the concrete jungle asphalt for a greater ground, with “Brothers” lifting a testament of fraternity skyward. “Jungle” prances with a menagerie of sound that chirps gallops from all directions from the mix, as “Brothers” presents what sounds like nu-dance experimental crazes poignant reflective thoughts that question the passage of youth and the questions of direction with the inquisitive quip of, “is this what I wanted to be, building something that’s not for me.” Elliott White shared some of the following exclusive thoughts on Yung Life’s recent new audio developments and more:

We took a direction with these recordings that was a little different than in the past. We recorded and produced everything ourselves at our parents house over the last couple of years rather than trying to make an album happen right away. I wrote the songs and had a rough idea for an album that would more complex than what we’ve already released. It went from the idea of something complicated like a concept album to simply just putting the songs together until it was finished enough for us to release it.

The sound and feels on this next release are just a collection of ideas over the past couple of years; I wrote the songs this time and everyone combined their ideas until each song reached a stopping point in the recording process. Basically, writing songs as-you-go type of method. The recordings are a little different than what we’re playing live as a band, which is cool because it makes the songs sound different live and it lets us to be creative with how we play them in a live set or something. We’re plan to release the album shortly, preceded by a couple singles and B sides in the coming week(s).


Snuff Redux

Introducing Seattle's Snuff Redux.

Introducing Seattle’s Snuff Redux.

Blaring from the garages, and makeshift DIY venues of Seattle, we just got hipped to Snuff Redux, and their passion fueled fury that is littered across their Toy Kingdom EP. The cobwebs and rafters are brought down with “Crust”, with “E-Drone” sending a roaming spirit from within the multi-propellor machine, as “Disintegrate the Days” unleashes what is pure candy, lending the herky-jerky gentle jive of, “Tell Me Twice”, storming emotions and fist pumping convictions on, “Classic”, leaving you with the desperado drifting shambles-shaker, “Cowboy”. During the week’s press storm, we were able to get a hold of frontman Skyler Ford for a unique look at this Seattle group.

How did Snuff Redux come to be?

Snuff started out of a stagnation in mind and sound in October of 2013. Daniel and I had lived together with some friends and had a great house where there was tons of music and fresh creation, but we eventually got booted by our tyrannic neighbor/landlord. After the boot, I moved to Bellingham for about a month, but with no job market in the college town, I moved back with my dad. Daniel and I started jamming in his basement, and eventually we got this itch, this itch to put our feet in something wet and new that we hadn’t touched. We needed a drummer, so we hit up this guy Adam who I’ve known for awhile. He and I jammed two years prior, so, the dude with the drumset is the drummer. We went right to it after that, seriously the day after we said we were going to start a band and “practiced” every morning (9 AM-2 PM) every weekday. We had a strict diet of coffee, spliffs, Fireball and microwavable taquitos. Everything moved fast.

What is the current indie climate in Seattle, and how do you feel it has impacted SR?

As a 22 year old who has been a part of the DIY scene for the past six or seven years, I have seen a lot of change in the music community. For all of the movers and changers in this city, and there are too many great people to list (but they know who they are), there have been setbacks. Crucial DIY places have been sucked dry by steady gentrification, the rent is rising and I think that has hurt things. No doubt people have been inspiring and inspired, but the balance between people running house shows/art spaces and the opportunity to share art with friends and new faces has been a little splintered as of late. There are still a few great houses and many, many musical forces that continue to make waves in this city, and we appreciate all of their individual impacts because it keeps us inspired to make stuff too.

With these redevelopments and splintering of the DIY communities, what has been both the challenge and struggle of keeping these indie communities thriving beyond the dedicated clandestine, designated houses, spaces, etc?

Even though the past few years have seen change, the overall mindset with keeping our culture thriving is that there isn’t a struggle as much as some bubbling desire to keep things alive and well, which I think has never died down since I’ve been going to shows. You get back what you put in, so playing shows when and wherever we can is the drive. And in one year I think we have accomplished a lot, playing some of the bigger clubs and stuff recently, it’s stuff I dreamed about and now it’s happening for us. Everyone is moving at a comfortable pace.

Give us the nitty-gritty on how Toy Kingdom came into being.

Toy Kingdom is essentially the first batch of songs we made, give or take a few songs. They were made in those early morning sessions, where we came together and bashed stuff together. The recording of it took a really long time, but it was worth it. We wanted to make songs that were straightforward but with something fresh to bring to the big table.

Give us a taste of what else you guys got in store for us.

We plan to record the next batch in the next couple of weeks, we are working with some cool dudes who are putting a studio together. The intention for this next release is to work a little faster but stay thorough and clean, even when it’s dirty sounding. We want to introduce some new textures and dive into production in a different way, but I think we have sat on these and played them enough that we can blast them out and have it be something cool. It will work as a vague b-side to Toy Kingdom, but also with new sounds and textures maybe a small glimpse into what is even further down the road for us.

Thoughts and conceptual design works you can share about what might result from some of these new recordings?

So I guess with this next release, we would like to show the other hemisphere of the Snuff brain. We are always talking about what’s next, but we haven’t had enough time to be in the present really since Alex our new drummer has been with us. This next release, which is called, Besides You? will be the scraps of a demolished Toy Kingdom, all of the pieces scattered and ready to be picked up again.

The part about us thinking ahead is where the real answer is…and that we are in the first stages of the full length. It’s called Denim American and is a loose concept album about the struggles of youth and people in this city, struggles of paying rent and fearing getting pushed out of your own environment. People talk about something called ‘the Seattle chill,’ and I think what we want to do is fight against it. Everyone is cut throat about making it in this town but they forget they need their friends, their brothers and sisters, and the people they don’t even see to get to where they want to go. We want to take everyone with us, even if we don’t know where we are going.

Other Seattle artists that are off the radar but everyone needs to be listening to right now.

I dont know what the radar looks like, but if I was to say whose music I enjoyed recently, I would say:

So Pitted; The future of Seattle guitar rock. Mostly enough said. They are the loudest and best people ever.

youryoungbody; cold and brooding dance music, like Kate Bush plus Ghosts and Duran duran.

Great Spiders; sick melodic Americana vibes with beer swilling shred, always fun times

Lakefight; manic carnival emo scream goodness.

Whitney Ballen; a most original voice who can make a man cry with her words. Believe it.

Stage Hands

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Johnstown, Pennsylvania duo Brandon Locher and Gerald Mattis are Stage Hands who just released their self-titled LP via My Idea of Fun. Locher recently did visuals for Ghostly, and is known for his work in The Meets, and numerous other projects; his work with Mattis as Stage Hands takes on the myriad forms of presences that make up the make-up of contemporary musical composites.

The self-titled ‘title’ track, “Stage Hands” serves as a kind of anthem, that transitions into the fusion of “The Populating Of Empty Space” that takes jazz trio approaches to transforming models of sound and former genre constructs.The experiments in electronic education and alchemy care on in the keyboard boops and humming buzz on “Adaptive Lines”, the catapulting synth drive of “Regardless”, dropping the rhythm down to cruise rider, “#unabomber” (feat. The One and Only Matt Miller), leaving you with the untitled parabola of electronic, bumping, and thumping atmospheres. We talked to one of half of Stage Hands, Brandon Locher about the making of their self-titled and more.

How did the two of you link up as Stage Hands?

Gerald Mattis and I started Stage Hands in late 2013, after I released an LP called It Happens Outside from my ongoing project The Meets. This project featured a self-produced sound collage ensemble of more than 20 live recording musicians playing freely expressive melodies and improvisational noise over an electronic tapestry. While this project was an amazing studio recording exercise, it wasn’t really practical to take on the road. Gerald and I have been friends since high school, meeting at local DIY shows in Johnstown, PA in the early 2000s. Fast forward 13 years later and Gerald and I started talking about starting a new band together, then immediately started working together on writing material for the project.

With the two of you having a diversity of talents from the visual arts, productions of various sorts, percussion, and more; where do you all find the cross sections that contribute to so much of your synergy?

Luckily working and collaborating with Gerald feels like a very effortless process. We can collectively understand one another’s vision and execute this work by staying in tune with our natural artistic progression and developed workflow. I feel like the role of a producer is to have the vision and understanding of how all of these abstract elements and bits will add up to something much larger and ultimately tell a compelling story. I think that’s why we decided on the band name Stage Hands. Sometimes music making to me feels so much larger than just organizing sound and throughout the process trying to perfectly execute a premeditated vision while having an open conversation with experimentalism and chance.

What was the process of bringing together the analog, the acoustic, and electronic together for the Stage Hands self-titled?

Once we have a general idea of the type of sound that we are trying to create, we basically just build it from the ground up. First, we usually focused on trying to develop a cohesive sound palette by creating sounds and samples that we find interesting. Right away I started making field-recordings of organic sounds that were then digitally sampled and manipulated. I think I’ve always been interested in using acoustic and organic sounds and attempting the blur the lines between physical and digital. I want to constantly keep developing, remixing, and exploring my own sense of expressing using visual and acoustic space. I want to record orchestras and brass bands playing outdoors in parks with those bandstands that project echo. I want to record an ensemble of drummers playing alongside a highway with multiple sets of microphones traveling away from the drums in consistent intervals deep into a scenic valley. Taking all of this organic material and digitally altering its properties is very interesting to me.

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What else have the two of you been recording lately now that the self-titled is released and completed?

Stage Hands is currently writing new music and plans on touring a lot during 2015. We plan on performing this new material live before we start the recording process again hopefully later this year. Personally I have been working on creating new visual art pieces for my ongoing Mazes to the Motherlode series (http://www.brandon-locher.com/visual/) and Ghostly International will soon premiere a new piece as a print edition available for sale at The Ghostly Store (http://www.theghostlystore.com/collections/art). Generally I focus my concentration on only one artistic medium at a time, so if I have been writing or recording music and end up with a few new tracks, I’ll switch my creative gears completely and focus on my visual or conceptual art. While I work on music, I develop new concepts for visual or conceptual pieces and vice versa. I found that taking time away from one medium allows me to reproach the work with a clean perspective and conscious.

Other artists you love that you think deserve more credit and attention?

One of my best friends Christopher S. Bell is one of the most focused and truly dedicated artists that I know. He’s released over 15 literary works since 2008 and has been consistently writing and releasing heady psychedelic pop at a very impressive rate. His musical projects Emmett and Mary, Technological Epidemic, C. Scott and the Beltones, and the forthcoming Fine Wives are all worth checking out! Almost all of Bell’s work can be found on the My Idea of Fun website, an art and music archive that is focused on the digital preservation of media and work with roots in Johnstown, PA. Bell isn’t making work with any audience in mind but is making art because he has a true passion to create things, and I’m very honored to consider him my friend.

Anything else or anyone else we should be listening to?

I once read something Matthew Herbert said in an interview that has always stuck with me, “I still feel there is too much music in the world. I’m not convinced that we need to make any more music. I read this statistic that said 75% of music on iTunes has never been downloaded once. It’s depressing, but it also makes you think that we should stop making music until we listen to it all, and then we should start again.” Lately I’ve been listening and really fascinated by a lot of older albums by artists like Alvin Curran, Pierre Henry, Michael Galasso, Uwe Schmidt, Arto Lindsay, Conlon Nancarrow, and even Grace Jones. I’m always trying to listen to a lot of older music that I’ve missed. I’d suggest that if you really like an artist or band to simply check out the very first thing they have recorded. I think as an artist and listener it’s important to have an extensive knowledge of history so we can hopefully progress and continue to make something completely creative and new.

Stage Hands’ self-titled LP is available now via My Idea of Fun.

The Yetis

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Late last year we introduced you to The Yetis’ single, “Little Surfer Girl”, and now bring you the video for the song that brings together the disparate and polar opposing visuals of sun, sand, snow, summer, and winter, all in one. The Allentown, Pennsylvania band described to us in the following exclusive blurb about how the video relays the song’s creative inception, as the group shares further thoughts on exciting developments in the works:

This is our debut music video for our debut single “Little Surfer Girl” and it was directed and edited by us! It’s a day in the life of The Yetis and the story of how we wrote “Little Surfer Girl”. We wanted to depict the true story of how we were rehearsing non-surf material for our first New York City show at Cameo Gallery in the dead of winter and then just started to play something beach-y to escape the cold. We actually did smoke pot to give us some creative edge and our hands were really so frozen that we had to warm them up in front of a kerosene heater just so we could play. “Little Surfer Girl” and the music video are just about making your dreams come true and having fun in the cold even if you wish you were under the warm sun.

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We shot the beach part of this video last summer at Surf City, New Jersey, where Patrick and I (Nick) actually first took surfing lessons. We still suck though. And then we filmed again this winter at our practice space in Allentown, Pennsylvania. From the beginning we aimed for a loose, French New Wave approach (not saying we achieved anything like that) meaning that we had an excuse for the footage and editing to not be perfect since it was pretty DIY except for the indispensable help from three of our friends who were behind the cameras (Dan Brennan, Walter Pierson Palmer IV and Shane Lisa). We just wanted to showcase each member of the band and how we’re a gang of friends more than we are a rock band.

We are going back into the studio with Kyle Slick Johnson who produced “Little Surfer Girl” to record a 3-song EP called Lonely Tandem Ride. For us it’s going to be an exciting step because the songs are more complete pop songs with choruses and bridges. One of the three is about surfing again, it’s called “Surf With You” but it’s probably our last surf one for a while. We do just love surfing and the nostalgia of the beach though. Then on Friday, March 13th we are the main support for Hinds at Baby’s All Right (we play at 11:30pm, Hinds at 12:30am), so don’t miss that and then this summer we are touring in Europe! Hopefully we have time to make more music videos too cause we’re loving the reaction we’ve gotten so far from premiering our debut music video!

Pittsburgh’s Adventures lent us an early listen to their upcoming album, Supersonic Home, available February 17 from Run For Cover. From the emotion levee break of “Dream Blue Haze”, the celestial sun gaze of, “Heavenly”, all the way down to the closing finale of the title track; the dreams of requited worth and honest tales of tension and letting your hair down are fed through the poppier sides of what this post-emo thing is all about anyway.


Peep the Piers Bailey video for UK duo Apidae’s new single, “Turning Tides” available from Dumont Dumont. The production talents of Greg Hummell and Drew JH provide the sound for transitions of life, transitions from day to night, transitions between different scenarios, and the space between disparate memories.

With the posthumous release of the album, Things I Like To Do from Buenos Aires by London songwriter Larry Alvarez, aka Scorpio Loon; we bring you a taste of the clandestine recordings made in the time spanse of 1999 and 2005 that have not been heard by many, until now. Introduce yourself to the international power pop tunesmith of infinie intrigue with, “Take It Off”.

Maribou State will release their album debut, Portraits, June 1 from Counter Records, and we present the first single of electronic signals to be included on your next atmospheric centered mixtape with, “Rituals”.

J from Jungle and Oliver Hadlee Pearch dropped the shadow dancing video for “Julia”, off the self-titled album available now, with a US tour in the works that runs from April 3 through June 19.

Formerly of Bipolar Sunshine, we bring you the new electronic essences of Jazz Purple, with the premiere single, “Do You” featuring Diversa, that plays with the production methods that inform much of everything that you and I love about slow jamz and lover’s rock. The electric slides dip keys down into pools of effects, where emotions plume basslines in the deep ends, and surface in slo-mo splashes like the best spring break or summer memories imaginable.

Speaking of artists from the Noumenal Loom stable, Jimmy Turturici released a loosie called “Mr. Boogieman”, that finds the Monterey artist making what could have been a lost underground NYC demo left over from the art star Ampex reels of the 60s era. Jimmy’s album Lost Encoded Memories is available now via Natural Satellite.

Evans the Death dropped the Danny Nellis video for “Enabler”, sure to blow out your ear drums with bliss, and perhaps induce a seizure or two on accont of the strobing light. Find this on the upcoming, Expect Delays album, available March 10 from Slumberland Records.

Pictureplane shared the A-side from the upcoming single Hyper Real / Total Confusion, available February 10 from the new IHEARTCOMIX singles imprint, IHC 1NFINITY. Word has it that Antwon is featured on the b-side “Total Confusion”, as Pictureplane (aka Travis Egedy) springs to post-physical form with a visceral taste of hyper-reality that sports some of that alien body lifestyle.

Check out the following preview excerpts off the upcoming album, On A Business Trip To London from Exploring Jezebel, available March 16 from Blackest Ever Black. Enter into the apex of the electronic parallax here.

Watch the Oval-X video for Null’s “Luv U, Luv Me”, from the forthcoming debut EP, Almost, available March 3 from Acéphale / Siberia Records. Get into that void between the digital and physical realms where the devices, interfaces, and circuitboards make an attempt to tap fully into the human condition of responses and hedonistic drives.

Temple Invisible debuts the celestial descent of electronic ephemral everything on, “Everything From Above”, from their debut EP, Enter_ available March 10.

With Fort Romeau’s album Insides available March 31 from Ghostly International; “Not A Word”, made with encoded (and vocoded) processed vocals by New Jackson. Like the ghost/voice/or god within the bowels of the machine, the Romeau rolling reels of overhead and underground synth sequence blink systems of notes that sweep up the vocals that are dipped deep into the electronic mix.

Bay Area’s jukebox platter spinners Monophonics keep that classic spirit of vintage singles swinging in full force as featured on their recently dropped the “Promises” 7”, with their full length, The Sound of Sinning available April 1 from the Ohio imprint, Colemine Records.

Keeping those future rare grooves bringing the modern audio models into the future, also be sure to check out the Alexandros Pitoulis Sancho & Giannis Gripeos Ladakis video for Monophonics’ “Strange Love”.

For that Valentine’s “Holiday”, SF’s Hazel Rose dropped the sultry Mr. Tower video to give you something to light the candles and pop some corks to. Hazel’s upcoming album The Seed will be available March 24.

With Lady Lazarus’s Miracles available March 3 from Queen’s Ransom, listen to the incredible spirit lifting song, “Anna” that Melissa Ann Sweat wrote to honor her grandmother who left the earth too early in a plane crash. Like the title of the album, and the second nature of Sweat’s command of the piano notes continues to lift the stage curtains to express original poetic hymns of both the personal and universal that strike meanings in the ears and hearts of the listener.

Check out Eskmo’s electronic ode to the planetary orb of fire, on,”The Sun Is A Drum”, taken off the forthcoming album, LPSOL available March 3 from Apollo Records.

Bouquet delivered the Jennifer Juniper Stratford video of illuminated swimming pool visions for the single, “Stacks On Stacks”, taken from their upcoming debut EP, In A Dream, available March 10 from Ulrike / Folktale Records.

Olympia’s Nudity are readying their album, Astronomicon for release April 7 from Iron Lung Records, and you can hear the galaxy blasting / afterburners blazing title track now.

With Range Anxiety, available now from Merge Records, Twerps gave us the Angus Lord video to accompany all of your morning breakfast routines on the jingle-jangle velvet twee, “Stranger”.

Directed by Y2K, with cinematography by Powell Robinson; The Soft Moon’s video for “Far” is here to drive you deep into the stormy, and distorted depths of the darkest evening. The new album Deeper will be available March 31 from Captured Tracks.

In case you missed it, get sentimental with your boy and ours, Alex G, on the lovely strummed song of “Sarah” off the forthcoming Lucky Number album Trick available April 6.

Also unleashed on the world this week, Jay Stones’ “Numerology” takes some of that deep bass slow jazz into the more sensitive, but confident Franco-American angles of the most smooth sensations on sound you might hear all winter/spring.

Lee Bannon dropped tour dates that run through March 20 featuring appearances with Ratking and Trash Talk, dropped a mix for Boiler Room’s “Upfront” series, as word has it a new LB album is available TBD (rumor says this summer). The following presentation brings you “untitled file track #1”, “fuck you expect LB -rework”, “untitled file track #2″, untitled file track #3”, Arca’s LB rework, Junglepuss’s LB rework of “Curve ‘Em”, “untitled file track #3”, and “black hole sun” reworked by Mr. Bannon himself.

California’s Rey Villalobos is House of Wolves, who shares a listen to the sentimental strums of acoustic heart strings and song on the title track, “Daughter of the Sea” off Rey’s upcoming album of the same name, available April 27 from the, Dusk, Dais, Dawn.

Isaac Rother & The Phantoms

IsaacRother&ThePhantoms_1
Isaac Rother, photographed by Leslie Kalohi.
It’s a drive-in Friday (or Saturday, or Sunday, etc) with Isaac Rother & The Phantoms delivering their B-movie tribute video for “Heeby Jeebies”, directed by Emmett Sutherland. Taken off their debut single for Mock Records, the camp of classic Ed Wood style camp is graced with some of the retro rock and roll that should be blaring from hip diner jukeboxes the world over. Issac wrote us the following about the video:

This video tells the true tale of a wily swashbuckler down on his luck seeking the services of a mysterious and alluring fortune teller. The fortune teller decides to make the poor stranger her victim and curses him with her terror cards. The curse summons two horrifying creatures from the pit fires of hell to pursue the man. There are not words in the English langue foul enough to describe the fate that befalls our poor, unfortunate victim. It must be seen to be believed! Those among us courageous enough to watch the footage, “Heeby Jebbies” by Isaac Rother & The Phantoms, must be forewarned that these horrifying events can happen to you!

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